Reap the Benefits of Family Mealtime

By Jennifer Benedetto MS, RD, LC CNSC
Clinical Dietitian at LMC

Along with the start of the school year, come homework and extra curricular activities. Helping your child with nightly assignments and carting them to their next practice leave little time for actually preparing and eating an evening meal together. But the benefits of family mealtimes are well known.

Family eatingBesides being a great opportunity to provide a healthy, well-balanced meal, family dinners improve adolescent well being by decreasing the incidence of disordered eating. Family meals also decrease the chance that your child will become overweight. Children and adolescents who partake in a family meal have less depressive symptoms, greater academic achievement and more positive family interactions. The most positive benefits are seen when 3 or more meals are eaten together. But with a busy schedule, how is this feasible?

Keep it simple. Family meals need not be complicated. Forgo recipes with long lists of ingredients and stick to basic staples. A favorite in my house is “taco” night using lots of fresh veggies, grilled chicken, black beans and cheese made with 2% milk.
Double up. When preparing meat, rice or pasta, cook double. Grilled chicken breasts can be used for salads, pasta or stir fries, so load up the grill. Browned ground turkey can also go the extra mile in tacos, burritos, or casseroles. Pasta can be served warm with sauce or cold as a pasta salad.
Prep ahead. Use the weekend to wash and prepare vegetables for weekday meals. Seeing the brightly colored vegetables in your refrigerator will encourage you to grab them and go. Serve them raw, stir fried, sautéed or grilled. Your family will love the fresh flavor!
Enlist help. Children that assist with menu planning are more likely to eat what is served. When it comes to meal preparation, have everyone strap on their aprons and pitch in by doing age appropriate activities. Young children can assist with washing vegetables. Elementary age children can set the table or stir sauces or stews.
Shop early in the week and avoid multiple trips. Organize the week’s menu early and make a shopping list. Keep staples like brown rice and whole wheat pasta on hand. Last minute trips to the grocery store are wasteful and time consuming.

With teamwork and advanced planning, your family can soon reap the benefits of shared meals!

    Sources

: thefamilydinnerproject.org; “Do family meals make a difference?” by Eliza Cook and Rachel Dunifon of Cornell University

Using Antibiotics Appropriately

With guest blogger Dr. Brandon Emery of Lexington Pediatric Practice, an LMC physician practice

Antibiotics are a great remedy for a number of childhood infections and illnesses. They’re one of the great advances in medicine, but it’s important to use them wisely. Taking antibiotics too frequently when they’re not absolutely necessary may decrease the effectiveness of antibiotics for your child in the long term.

Dr. Brandon Emery

Dr. Brandon Emery

Some illnesses always need antibiotics. Strep throat is one of them. However, sinus infections may be a different story. Some inus infections may resolve on their own without antibiotics.

One of the most common childhood illnesses is an ear infection. If a child with an ear infection is an infant, we usually treat them with antibiotics. For an older child, you may decide to simply treat the pain and allow the immune system a chance to resolve the infection on its own. Your doctor can help you make the right choice based on your child’s symptoms.

Importantly, antibiotics will only help a bacterial infection, not a virus. A virus will have to run its course until your child is better. In the meantime, talk to your doctor about ways to treat the symptoms and make your child more comfortable while they’re sick.

It’s important to note that any child with the following symptoms should see a health care provider:
~A fever that lasts longer than five days
~A fever of more than 103 degrees that lasts 2 to 3 days
~Cold symptoms that last for more than ten days or with severe onset

immunizationHere’s the bottom line: Parents should take their child to the doctor for an evaluation and a diagnosis, but not thinking that they definitely need an antibiotic. Some infections do not require it. The overuse of antibiotics increases the risk of bacteria becoming resistant to them. And because there are not a lot of new antibiotics being produced, that can impact your child’s ability to fight a more serious infection in the future.

Parents should always feel free to discuss the role of antibiotics and their use with their pediatrician.

For more information about Dr. Emery and Lexington Pediatric Practice, visit LexPediatricPractice.com or call them at (803) 359-8855. The practice is located at 811 W. Main Street, Suite 204, in Lexington. Dr. Emery is accepting new patients.

Good News for Bad Knees

Dr. Kevin Nahigian of Carolina Shoulder & Knee Specialists will give our hospital’s monthly physician lecture on Monday, August 25 at 6:00 p.m. inside the Lexington Medical Park 1 Auditorium on the hospital campus. The topic is “Good News for Bad Knees.” He previewed his talk with a segment on WLTX this week. Check it out below.